Oh Bali, baby, where to even begin? This little island has my heart for so many reasons.
9 years ago my beautiful friend Juliet and I decided we needed a little girls break somewhere exciting, because well, we were 21. We headed to Bali for a week of fun. We stayed in Kuta which at the time (and probably now too) was the Spring Break venue for every Australian and his Brazilian friend. Between the beer drinking and the sun tanning we explored quite a bit of the island. We went to Ubud and got jumped on by monkeys (one of my biggest fears), explored Nusa Dua and the beautiful white beaches and ventured through a few other beach villages. It was such a great trip and I always knew I wanted to go back. So when we moved to Singapore a year ago it was on the top of my list , and I couldn't wait to show Warren and Georgie pop.
This time we decided to stay in Canggu because many a person told me that it is very chilled and child-friendly, without the resort-world feel that is Nusa Dua. So we hopped on a plane and arrived in Bali just 2.5 hours later. What a bloody pleasure!
The weeks leading up to the trip were a bit tense for me. Lombok had been hit with some disastrous earthquakes and the after shocks were felt as far as Bali. We debated for a while whether the trip was too risky, and decided that the area is always a risk and not any more so at this time. So when we landed in Bali, walked through the airport and saw staff running around pointing at the swaying lights and cracking walls I was worried. Luckily the island remained safe.
Where to stay
We booked this villa through Airbnb. My friend Anna-Belle gave me some advice and said to get a villa with a pool because you'll want to escape to it after a long day out and about, and I am so happy we listened. It was our little oasis because Canggu was way crazier than I expected and we loved coming home and having a quiet space to relax in.
Where to eat
EVERYWHERE AND ANYWHERE. Singapore is ranked the 6th most vegan city in the world and honestly I don't know why they don't just replace the entire top ten with Canggu and get on with it. I felt like I had a glimpse into the future walking around the streets of this little bubble. There are dozens of vegan and plant-based eateries, plenty of vegetarian ones and even the omni places have loads of vegan options, clearly marked! I think I realised what a revolution is was when I saw that the omni restaurants didn't use "Best steak in town" or "Flame grilled chicken" to lure people into their establishments, they used the word vegan... "Vegan options available here" "Great selection of vegan food". Basically I was in heaven. Some of my favourite spots were The Shady Shack, Crate Cafe, and Green Ginger (none of these were strictly vegan actually but the food was so bloody delicious).
Where to beach
Canggu's beaches take some getting used to. As South Africans we are so spoilt with beaches, white and clean. Canggu's beach sand is glistening and black, and I'll admit that initially I was unimpressed. But by the end of the holiday I saw the absolute beauty in the stretches of dark sand and we spent so much time frolicking in the waves and building sand castles. But if you feel like indulging a bit then I'd suggest heading South to Sundays beach club. It is at the foot of a cliff and the sand and water was just magical.
Beach clubs seem to be the trend in Bali. Basically it is a restaurant and bar with a pool, on the beach. If the price tag is too expensive for a lounger or beach bed then often you can hang out at the bar for free and still use the pool and other facilities. We loved The Lawn in Canggu, it is a great little spot to spend the afternoon or evening.
How to get around
If you don't have kids then getting a motorbike is the best option (even though we saw lots of people pop their kids into carriers and ride away anyway, I didn't feel it was safe). Canggu doesn't have sidewalks so it isn't particularly easy to walk around, but with a scooter or motorbike you can zip around easily. We rented a car through our Airbnb host and I would 100% recommend doing the same if you have kids. The roads are small and the traffic is a nightmare because nobody follows the rules we know, but the bigger the car the more power you have on the road and so people always give way to you. This also gives you the freedom to explore the island and use the boot as a changing table.
We used a babysitter twice so that we could go out and have a meal together without tag teaming walking around with Luna. We waited until Luna was asleep and then the sitter would hang out on the couch while we went out and had cocktails. Bali Baby have some great nannies available, but book in advance because they were always too busy to help us out last minute. They also supply baby equipment so you don't have to fly yours over and even put up pool fences if you're worried about the littles not being safe.
Canggu is a little diamond in the rough and to be honest I hope it doesn't get too polished. The rice paddies between the cafes and the street dogs roaming around give it a rustic, real feel. I love the energy of this little slice of heaven and I'm just about ready to pack up my life and move into a little villa there forever.